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What You Need to Know Before Visiting Spain

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Tibidabo Amusement Park, Image Credit: Thomas Nozina, Unsplash

Anyone who has fantasized about endless summers on the Costa del Sol, the late-night buzz of ancient towns and cities, fresh dishes, or wandering the streets of Barcelona, Madrid, Grenada, and Seville, can now make those fantasies a reality with new entry requirements to travel to Spain from Israel.

Many people believe Spain is all about Siestas, Paella, and Sangria.  However, with the country’s diversity and complexity, this is far from the case. Here are 8 facts you should know before visiting Spain to help you understand the real Spain and separate fact from fiction.

People eat at very late hours

Spaniards, in general, eat very late – lunch is around 2 pm and dinner is around 9 pm or 10 pm. You’ll need to adjust your meal times when you visit because most restaurants don’t open or begin serving meals until at least 8 pm or later. But don’t worry, tapas is usually available all day so that you won’t go hungry.

Lots of folks do not sleep during siesta time

The siesta has long been regarded as an essential feature of Spanish culture that the rest of the world envies, but this is not the case. Yes, most shops and businesses close between 2 and 4 pm, but this does not imply that people sleep. Most of the time, they simply go home to eat lunch and spend time with their families.   When the shops reopen, the Spaniards are back at work until 8 or 9 pm, so most people here work much longer hours as well.

Things do not always begin on time

Official events will begin on time, but if you’ve planned a get-together with friends or have been invited to a party, don’t be stupefied if you’re the first one to reach there. You might have to wait for events to start as well, so pack your patience along with your swimsuit in your suitcase.

The public transportation system is outstanding

Although many things in Spain are late, public transportation is not. Trains and buses rarely fail to arrive on time. Compared to other countries, like the United Kingdom, public transport is very affordable, and you can travel long distances without breaking the bank. The AVE – Spain’s fast train – allows you to travel around the country at breakneck speed. A high-speed train from Valencia to Madrid takes only one hour and 40 minutes, and a train from Madrid to Malaga takes two and a half hours.

Flamenco is not the traditional dance of Spain

Flamenco is not the traditional dance of Spain; rather, it is the traditional dance of Andalusia. While there are many places to see flamenco in Granada, Seville, and Cordoba, there isn’t much of it in Cantabria, Galicia, or the Basque Country. There are places in Barcelona where tourists can watch it; it is not part of Catalan culture.

There are a plethora of festivals in Spain that you can probably go to one every day of the year

Spain is regarded as the festival capital of the world, with so many to choose from that it’s tough to keep track of them all. There’s a good chance that at least one festival will coincide with your trip to Spain. Las Fallas in Valencia, Seville’s Feria de Abril, La Mercè in Barcelona,are among the best Spanish festivals.

Paella and Sangria are not widely available

Paella is a dish from Spain’s Valencia region. While you can find it all over Andalusia and in many touristy restaurants in Barcelona, it’s not a dish that everyone eats. In the Basque Country and Galicia, pintxos, cod, or octopus are more likely to be on the menu than Paella. Sangria is primarily a tourist drink, and you won’t see many locals drinking it. If you’re seeking something more traditional, try a tinto de verano (summer wine) or check out Spain’s traditional drinks. 

August is not the best month to visit

Even though August is the middle of the summer and most families vacation during this time, August is not the best time to visit Spain. In August, most of Spain goes on holiday to the beach or to summer homes in the countryside. Most businesses, including restaurants and cafes, close for the month. Major tourist attractions will remain open, but if you want to see a more local side of the country, visit in a different month. Of course, August is also the hottest month in Spain. Temperatures in cities like Granada, Seville, and Cordoba regularly exceed 40 degrees Celsius, making walking and sightseeing difficult.

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